Cotton Bowl 2012: 5 Things We Learned from the Kansas State vs. Arkansas Matchup
The 2012 Cotton Bowl saw the Arkansas Razorbacks defeat the Kansas State Wildcats 29-16 and proved that the SEC is still the premier football conference in America.
Arkansas out-gained the Wildcats 345 to 260 in total yards, and the Razorbacks made the big plays when they needed to.
Plays like Joe Adams' 51-yard punt return for a touchdown and Tyler Wilson’s 45-yard bomb to Jarius Wright showed that the Hogs had more firepower than the Wildcats.
Following the Cotton Bowl, these are the five things we learned not only about Arkansas, but also the BCS and SEC.
Never Punt to Joe Adams
Why punt to Joe Adams?
Why punt to the most electrifying player in college football? Adams has shown that he can turn minimal gains into jaw-dropping highlights with a few shifty moves and broken tackles.
Adams showcased that ability once again with his 51-yard touchdown in the first quarter. It sparked the Hogs early when they were struggling on offense, and it turned out to be the difference-maker in the game.
Opponents of whichever NFL team Joe Adams lands with, take heed: Whatever you do—don’t punt to him.
Collin Klein is as Good as Advertised
His team may not have gotten the victory tonight, but Collin Klein still impressed.
Klein doesn’t have the offensive firepower around him that Tyler Wilson does at Arkansas, but Klein still finds a way to produce for his team.
Klein made some great throws throughout the game, but his receivers let him down with some terrible drops. Klein finished the game 16-of-30 and passed for 174 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
I’ll admit that I haven’t seen a whole lot of Klein this season, so I thought the media might be over-hyping the guy.
But after watching his performance tonight, I have to say that he does remind me of Tim Tebow—and he could be a dark horse in the Heisman race next season.
Arkansas Deserved to Play in a BCS Bowl
This was the game to determine which team deserved to play in the BCS, and Arkansas proved tonight that they were that team.
Because LSU and Alabama were playing for the national championship, Arkansas couldn’t play in a BCS bowl because it won’t allow more than two teams from the same conference.
Arkansas won 11 games this season, with their only losses coming against the two teams playing for the national championship.
That’s a pretty impressive resume, and I have no doubt that Arkansas could compete with any team in the nation not named LSU or Alabama.
They've Got the Field-Goal Kicking Blues
We’ve seen it all postseason, and the Cotton Bowl showed us once again why field-goal kickers are so essential to a team.
After they were down by 10 points in the fourth quarter, Kansas State mounted an impressive drive that saw Klein scrambling, passing and doing whatever he could to will his team to victory.
The Wildcats offense set up a 42-yard field goal for their kicker, and Anthony Cantele missed it.
With the clock running low, that took the wind out of the Wildcats’ sails and Zach Hocker hit a 30-yard field goal to put the Hogs up by 13 with less than four minutes left to play.
Kickers might not get as much love as quarterbacks, but they can be the difference between capturing the win or getting your heart ripped out of your chest with a heartbreaking loss.
SEC Is Still the Best
Whether you love the SEC or hate it, you have to admit that it’s the best conference in college football.
The SEC will finish 6-3 in this season's bowl games, with one of those losses coming at the hands of another SEC school (LSU or Alabama).
Vanderbilt dropped a game by seven points to Cincinnati and Georgia lost a heartbreaker to Michigan State in three overtimes, but other than that the SEC has shown that its teams still play a dominant brand of football.
In fact, the LSU Tigers hold victories over the Rose Bowl Champion Oregon Ducks and Orange Bowl Champion West Virginia Mountaineers.
This Arkansas victory over Kansas State proved that the SEC’s third-best team is better than the Big 12’s second-best team.
However you want to slice it, it’s evident that the SEC is still the king of college football.